Lorenzo Trevino was the starting quarterback for the Marion football team this fall and is a boxer for the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, so he’s already a busy young man.
But the sophomore went out for the Giants boys’ swim team to improve his conditioning for other sports, and he already can see a difference. And he’s not alone.
Four boys competed for the team last year and none of them currently are back, with two having graduated. But coach Willie Tucker had 12 come out for this season’s team with the help of recruiting pitches from other coaches. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams include many first-time swimmers who came from the soccer, football and baseball programs.
“We have a lot of brand new kids coming out because they realize how good a sport it is to stay in shape,” Tucker said. “A lot of the other coaches at Marion helped out and were pushing them to come out.
“Even if they are doing it for other sports, we are going to make them swimmers in the meantime,” he added.
Trevino is among the newcomers despite having never before competed in a swim meet. But football coach Ryan Vermilion and others sold him on the benefits of swimming.
“I wanted a challenge and try something new, and so far it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Trevino said. “But I can see it will make me a better football player and boxer.
“Every time I swim I’m working out every one of my muscles, and it’s improving my stamina,” he added. “In football, it will make me stronger, and in boxing it will make me quicker.”
Tucker, who begins his sixth season, has struggled to maintain a boys team the past few years, and so he’s encouraged with the much-improved turnout. The girls have fared better with their numbers, although Tucker said the 17 out for the current team are down slightly from last year.
And the girls will have several experienced swimmers in the pool when their season opens with a home dual meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday against South Adams. The boys won’t debut until Dec. 2 at Northwestern, and Tucker said he can use the time to teach and determine each swimmer’s strengths.
“That was hard last year to swim with just four people, but we made the best of it and they still swam hard,” Tucker said of the boys’ team. “I believe we can win some meets this year, and they are going to get better in every meet. But being all new to them, it’s going to take a while. We are teaching and working on technique before we can even get our yardage in.”
Sam Diedrich is the top girls’ returnee, and the senior is chasing down the 28-year-old school record in the 200-yard backstroke. Diedrich also will swim freestyle.
Like several team members, Kaylan Williams mixes in swimming with club soccer during the winter, and the junior will be the top sprint freestyler. Returning sophomore Emma Clevenger has made considerable progress according to Tucker, and sophomore Anna Hussong is another experienced swimmer.
Newcomers who will contribute include sophomores Katie Murphy and Sophia Kitts and freshmen Zoe Case, Elizabeth Wuertley, Greer Decker and Taylor Fleece. Many of these girls have varied athletic backgrounds with Murphy and Kitts both soccer players, Case a track and cross country runner and Wuertley a tennis player.
“We have a solid group of experienced swimmers and quite a few new ones, and they are all working hard and getting in good shape,” Tucker said. “I’m ready to get started.”
Tucker does have one boys’ swimmer with previous experience. Chris Lemons returns for his senior year after sitting out last year and is coming off a good fall season playing goalkeeper for the soccer team.
“I’m looking for (Lemons) to lead because just about everyone else is an underclassmen,” Tucker said.
Freshman Jaylen Springer is the most promising of the newcomers, according to Tucker. Senior Eli Foreman from the baseball team; freshman Sam Vermilion from the soccer team, and freshman Jacoby Drayton also should make contributions.
“Jaylen already is one of our leaders, and he swam for the eighth grade team,” Tucker said. “I’ve never seen a kid so excited about the sport of swimming. And Eli and Sam are really impressing me.”
Tucker said Trevino has caught on to swimming quickly and should develop into an asset for the boys’ team.
“He’s a hard worker, and I think he will end up being pretty good,” Tucker said of Trevino. “He’s got some talent, and he’s got some heart.”
For his part, Trevino said he would encourage other football players to give swimming a try.
“If we can get more from the younger classes out (for swimming), I think we can be a better (football) program,” he said. “Everyone thinks this is easy, but you have to put in some work.”